During last week, I had the opportunity to attend one of our CoPs (community of practises) meetings at my company. This CoPs was dedicated to Scrum Masters and since we have many new scrum masters, the focus of the meeting was on a following topic: “What means to be a good Scrum Master, its roles and responsibilities”. It was extremely interesting as I am preparing my new book: “Scrum Master Toolbox: How to help your teams to excel in Product Development” I could really get some interesting ideas from this talk.
Most of the people at the meeting were quite new to the role. When we started to brainstorm about responsibilities and characteristics of a good scrum master, most of the contribution was related to quite boring part of this role: organizing meetings, run dailies, retros, etc.
I was a bit disappointed, because Scrum Master role can be a fantastic position. A good Scrum Master has the opportunity to create a fantastic team and help people to grow as individuals and professionals. It´s a unique role within the team. Lyssa Adkins likes to point out that there are three levels of coaching: “Team Facilitator, Agile Coach and Organizational Coach”. The Scrum Master is the “Team Facilitator”. I see Scrum Masters being part of “first level” of coaching within the organization. In the discussion at the meeting almost nobody actually mentioned anything related to this. Only one person mentioned that Scrum Master is the glue for the team, that was really nice observation :)
During the CoP I mentioned that a true Scrum Master has the responsibility of making his job disposable. This was a cool moment where I actually found a pretty good way to see if a team is truly self-organized or not. Most of the them mentioned it would be impossible for teams to operate without Scrum Masters. Questions were raised: “Who will book the rooms? Who will organize the meetings? Who will move tasks arounds? Who will facilitate the meetings? “, etc. Someone even said, some weeks ago our Scrum Master went on holidays and it was a disaster, nothing was done.”
If you really want to test if your team is self-organized, simply remove the Scrum Master from the team and you will see what their level is. If they are able to continue their daily work like always, it shows they are already quite mature and self-organized. If nothing is done without someone taking the lead, it means they still have some work to do.